Police officer John Lyons is a remarkable man. An Ohio native, he lives and works in Cleveland's Fourth District to help keep its neighborhoods and community safe. Composed of five separate districts, the fourth district is statistically the poorest area with the highest crime rate and is located in the southeast corner of Cleveland, Ohio. What makes John Lyons so exceptional is that when he’s not taking the bad guys off the streets, his bravery and courage extends to rescuing homeless animals that he finds discarded and starving in these same streets.
“It wasn’t until I joined the Cleveland Police Department in 2006 that I realized what a huge problem there was regarding neglected stray animals and how dogs were used merely as tools and not considered as pets and part of the family. Used only for fighting, bait dogs, guarding property or breeding and when no longer needed they were discarded like yesterdays news paper, left out in the elements to fend for themselves” Officer Lyons said.
Now on the police force for nearly a decade, Officer Lyons often puts these hungry and scared dogs in vacant jail cells before bringing them home to nurse them back to health. “I want to someday have my own non profit rescue foundation”, Officer Lyons said.
Officer Lyons, 44 years old, was born and raised and still lives in Cleveland Ohio. He has been married to his wife Jennifer for 20 years. They have a 20 year old daughter named Katlyn and a 15 year old son named Zach. Prior to his joining the force, Lyons worked in the construction trades for 20 years. When LaSplash Magazine asked Officer Lyons if he ever feared for his life, he responded: “Well, most people out at 4 am aren't on their way to work…we come across people with weapons on a regular basis. On most nights, especially in the summer, we respond to shootings, robberies, car jacking’s and domestic violence. It could all turn bad in an instant.”
During his years working construction, he would occasionally come across stray dogs and cats on job sites. His friends would laugh when he would skip lunch and go buy dog food or cat food and feed the homeless animals. Sometimes if he could catch them, he would take them home until he could find them new homes.
“It was just a few years ago that I was introduced to the dog rescue community. While on basic patrol I came across a very emaciated boxer that was loosing his fur due to mange. He couldn’t eat and was very weak. I took him back to the station until our shift was over and then immediately to my vet. There my vet told me about some local dog rescues that maybe able to help find this dog a home and help with his vet costs. The boxer, now named Rupert by my sister who adopted him, is living the spoiled life and has completely recovered.”
“From then on, I started networking with some local rescues and when I would come across a stray in need while on patrol I would take him to the station until the shift was over. I’d take them and get them vetted and then with the help of my rescue friends they would be placed up for adoption. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned a lot on how the dog rescues work and the tireless effort the volunteer’s put into saving homeless animals. In this time we have rescued approx 40 dogs from the streets with every imaginable problem you can think of while on basic patrol along with cats and kittens a turtle and a possum. Lucky for me, my wife Jennifer loves animals as much as I do. When I bring a new stray home in the morning, she immediately knows without me saying anything because I’m usually covered in dog fur. Then I get ‘oh no what did you bring home now’ look, all while she is jumping out of bed and getting dressed so she can run and see him or her. I couldn’t do any of this without her; she cares for all of our animals at night when I’m at work. We've saved so many animals that now we get calls for owner surrenders or calls about local stray animals running around that need help. We even have had people drop dogs off at our home which we gladly take in. Our goal is to continue and expand our efforts to help rescue stray dogs and cats and to become an official non profit rescue in Cleveland and to offer support to other local rescues as well as the city kennel”.
“Out of all of the dogs rescued, I have sadly enough never found one to have an ID tag, a microchip or any other identifier. I can only imagine the horrible pasts that these animals have endured but yet when showed a little love and compassion these animals are the most forgiving and loving creatures on Earth. We will continue to do all that we can to save and find loving homes for all of the homeless and unwanted animals. Our typical stray that we find usually will have any one or more of the following, mange, bacteria and yeast infections in the skin, severely underweight frost bite burned pads from running on hot pavement, bite wounds, just to name a few. We also want to get more involved in educating the public on the bully breeds and the unfair treatment they get because of poor owners” Officer Lyons said.
Danielle Justice, a close friend of John Lyons, posted a few pictures of him on facebook with a dog that he had just rescued and the post went viral. The humanitarianism of Officer Lyons eventually got the attention of DOG for DOG, a dog food and treat company located in Santa Monica, California, who donated food supplies for Officer Lyons selflessness efforts. “We are so thankful for their help”, Lyons said.
Officer Lyons' bravery and commitment to animals and his community reminds us all that good deeds are not just for the holiday season but for every day. To make a donation or to send food, please visit his facebook page.
The Mission of the members of the Cleveland Division of Police is to enhance the quality of life, strengthen the neighborhoods and deliver superior services with professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence by working in partnership with the community.
About Cleveland Ohio
Founded in 1796 near the mouth of the CuyahogaRiver, Cleveland is the county seat of CuyahogaCounty and became a manufacturing center that is connected to numerous canals and railroad lines. Home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland’s economy has diversified sectors that include manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and biomedical. It is organized into 5 separate police districts. Nicknamed ‘The Forest City’ or ‘C-Town’, its population is approximately 3 million and is in close proximity to Lake Erie.
Rocky Kanaka Keever is President & Founder of DOG for DOG in association with Ryan Kavanaugh who owns ‘Lend A Free Hand’ dog food.
DOG for DOG is a dog food and treat company doing good! For every item
that they sell, they donate an item to a dog in need. Dakota Dunn, the Director of Giving for DOG for DOG, works with rescues and shelters all over the country to feed dogs in
need. Now you can feel good when you purchase a treat for your pup,
because when you buy one of their nutritious products, the same item will
be donated to a dog in need.
Acclaimed Indie filmmaker Christy Oldham, is the founder of Los Angeles based film production companies, Mercury Rising Films and DemiGoddess Pictures and owner of Healthy Dogs Pet Sitting Service. She has written, produced, directed and starred in numerous award winning feature films that are in world wide distribution. Look for her latest vigilante social message thriller, ‘Barracuda’, winner of 3 Best Picture awards, the fall of 2013 on VOD and DVD.